Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Brian Jonestown Massacre at Crescent Ballroom, 5/1/12

Categories: Last Night

Photos by Melissa Fossum
Brian Jonestown Massacre

Brian Jonestown Massacre
Crescent Ballroom
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
See also: Tripping with the Brian Jonestown Massacre
I have a serious question for diehard Brian Jonestown Massacre fans: Is frontman Anton Newcombe a perfectionist or just an asshole? I'm no BJM scholar -- I haven't seen DIG!, the documentary that chronicles the bands feud with the Dandy Warhols and Newcombe's rock 'n' roll instability, but over the course of the band's two-hour set last night, I found myself wondering exactly what the guy's deal is.
I'm going to assume Newcombe is a little bit of both. And, fortunately, like most testy musicians who have been in the game for a couple of decades, he has the talent to back up the drama.

Anton Newcombe (Brian Jonestown Massacre)
Most of Newcombe's remarks weren't too hostile. For the most part, it seemed like he was trying to get the best possible performance out of his band, though there seemed to be all sorts of guitar troubles. He complained about the reverb a bit, showing the audience his brand-new custom distortion pedal, admitting that he didn't know how to use it quite yet. He restarted a couple of songs because he felt the other guitarists weren't up to par. ("There's five people playing guitar, will somebody please play the intro with me? It's seriously sucky . . . don't throw shit at me. I'm not looking forward to playing 47 shows of half-assedness, so try harder, please.") Newcombe also pointed out that it shouldn't be this hard due to the fact that one of the guitars was "better than Keith Richards' guitar" because it has two pickups, so "it's good enough."
And he wasn't happy with someone tossing something at him. I personally didn't see anyone throwing anything at Newcombe, but I also in the midst of scribbling Anton quotes, so I could have very well missed it. At the end of the show, the floor was a sticky mess covered with drink cups, so the audience would have had plenty of fodder.
In spite of the alleged projectile, the crowd seemed to love Brian Jonestown Massacre. Fans sang along and did awesome tripped-out dances to favorites like "Anemone," "Not If You Were the Last Dandy on Earth," "Open Heart Surgery," "Oh Lord," and so on. It seemed like every person I stood next to was a super-fan, so it's safe to say that BJM's two-hour-plus set was great. If you have any doubts, just ask the guy that kept worshiping Newcombe like Wayne and Garth standing before Alice Cooper. 
The band didn't play an encore, but it really wasn't necessary. They finished strong with a lengthy version of "Straight Up and Down," combining the "na na na naaa" from The Beatles' "Hey Jude" and the "woo woo" from The Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man." How do you follow that up?
I was still quite impressed with BJM's musicianship. It's easy to pique my interest when you've got four guitarists on stage, not to mention the kind of percussion that's easy to dig into. The obvious example was hype man Joel Gion, who stood front and center with a tambourine and maracas and an air of indifference while cloaked in sunglasses and a beanie.
Brian Jonestown Massacre Setlist (based on physical list and personal observations, order is up for debate):
Stairway to the Best Party
Vacuum Boots
I Wanna Hold Your Other Hand
Got My Eye on You
This is Why You Love Me
Viholliseni Maalla
FU 4 Fing Me
You've Been Disconnected
There's a War Going on
Not if you Were the Last Dandy on Earth
Clouds are Lies
Waking up to Hand Grenades
Open Heart Surgery
Prozac Vs Heroin
That Girl Suicide
Oh Lord
Straight Up and Down
Critic's Notebook:
Last Night: Brian Jonestown Massacre at Crescent Ballroom.
Personal Bias: I know about the band thanks to Broken Flowers and kept getting them mixed up with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Yeah . . . they weren't gonna play "Spread Your Love."
The Crowd: Ran the gamut from 20-somethings with lambchops to old hippies.
Overheard in the Crowd: "I wish I was stoned right now."

joel,travis,christoff and the perfectionist backstage

phoenix 2012


  1. Hmm. How anti-climactic. I think New Times should have called me to review the show instead of Melissa since I wrote the article in last week's issue and know more about things than she does. One of the best gigs I've ever seen or been to.

    Also she's missing 'David Bowie' and 'Sailor' from the set-list. I don't need to say anymore, but when I'm not so tired I'm going to do the real review/sequel to the New Times article and post it on SU&D.

  2. I would love to read your review after it's posted. What is SU&D?

  3. Straight Up And Down:

  4. I will post it in the Keep Music Evil forum too and as a comment here, not the full thing but a link.

  5. I thought this show was great to say the very least. These guys are the real deal and went out of their way to give the audience a great show which lasted over two hours. Phoenix is quit positively the asshole of the universe. Even though I'm originally from Austin, Phoenix to my friends and I in Tucson it is better know as "bed, bath and beyond population 666". Even though Phoenix makes me want to crave a dip of snuff I made the trip from Tucson and was absolutely amazed with the show. I spent the next day listening to the new album and it is wonderful as expected. I especially loved the song viholliseni maalla the mickey mouse gas mask made all the sense in the world... Welcome back to the land of filth and money Anton. We Love You.

  6. Here it is: